I love shadows. To me, they epitomize one of my core life tenants: "Black is not Black without White." We live in a world where things are always presented as dichotomies: left and right, right and wrong, Coke and Pepsi. But the truth is that each of these are a go-with; they are non-dualities. You can't have the concept of left without simultaneously defining the concept of right. Just like that saying that you can't appreciate the sweet without the sour -- both in food and in life as it turns out.
On my walk, I was also reminded of Carl Jung's psychological concept of the "shadow self". Basically, for every part of ourselves where we strive to do our best, there is an equal and opposite part of ourselves that embodies our deepest fears, doubts, and shames. For example, I try to work hard because I know that deep down I'm lazy. I do my best to think of others because I know I'm selfish. I try to do the right thing because I know that there's a part of me who just doesn't care.
I had a crazy experience in the shower one night. I often shower in the dark (you should try it), but this night, I felt this malevolent presence in the shower with me. Hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My adrenaline was pumping. Slowly, I turned around and -- even though it was pitch black - in my mind's eye, I saw a ghoulish version of myself.
As I stared at my zombie self, terrified, I realized that this manifestation represented the parts of myself that I've tried to deny, repress, and just plain forget. I'm that moment, my fear went away, and was replaced by love. I pitied the version of me that's done such awful and selfish things. Like it or not, that creature is forever a part of me. And according to Jung, only by accepting my shadow self can I become integrated. And so, I forgave myself.
That which we resist, persists. The harder we deny our fears and regrets, the more power they have over us. Accepting doesn't mean condoning. It just means allowing reality to be real.
Only once we truly accept the way things are can we start to make any effective change.